The Washington Post sure does like Yelp

At least today’s story has a hook: Yelp just announced another round of funding, raising $15 million not because it needs the cash but because, per CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, “it’s a shaky world out there.”  Well, OK.

TechCrunch tosses out a valuation of $200 million on revenue of less than $10 million, and notes (correctly) that Yelp has been on a traffic tear lately.  Still not profitable, says the Post.

One interesting thing was the photo:

This is a local Virginia business giving some TLC to a group of the ‘Yelp Elite,’ which is Yelp’s clubby moniker for those it has anointed as cool kids.

I’m not a fan of the Yelp Elite concept, in part because it works only for twentysomethings, but there’s no doubt it drives engagement.  Smart businesses like this health club in McLean are leveraging that engagement, while Yelp acts as the broker.

I don’t think this strategy will prove cost-effective for Yelp, but it’s definitely interesting to watch.

I continue to be fascinated, too, by the way Yelp has become a platform for self-expression.  Above all, I believe, the ‘Elite’ visits Yelp in order to write artful reviews—not to read them.

It’s a different dynamic than the one we’re trying to tap at Loladex, where the substance of people’s opinions will take precedence over their mode of expression.  We think this will scale better, but it’s certainly tough to argue with how Yelp is doing so far.

Local is weird

Not long ago I was talking with Gib Olander from Localeze, our main data supplier.  The topic was local data, and how weird it can be: Some things look like they must be mistakes—except they’re not.

Gib’s example was a place that sells custom rims and also cellphone service.  If you saw the business listed under both categories, you might figure one was wrong. But Gib can show you a photo of Cell ‘n’ Wheels that proves otherwise.

I laughed. The example wasn’t so terribly outrageous, and Localeze certainly has an interest in promoting this idea.  :)  Yet at the same time, I happened to know of a much better illustration.

I get my hair cut at a barber’s shop that also sells seafood.   Oysters, specifically.  During the holiday season it does a roaring trade in hams, too; they’re piled into a shopping cart by the door.  No one seems to mind buying dinner from a place that can get ankle-deep in human hair.

Whatever about rims and phones, I’d definitely suspect an error if my search for [oysters] near [Leesburg, VA] returned Plaza & Tuffy’s Barber Shop as the top result.  But it’s the only place in Leesburg that advertises oysters on a sign:

 Fresh oysters at Tuffy’s

I shot this photo right before getting a haircut.  When I went inside, my barber Bobby asked why I had been taking pictures.  I told him I had a friend in Chicago who didn’t believe that a barber shop also sold seafood.

“We’re still country here,” he replied. “You tell him that.”

It got me to thinking: In reviewing YellowBot last year, I included a screengrab of something I portrayed as an error—YellowBot’s tags said that a hair-removal place here in Leesburg also sells bail bonds.

Perhaps I was too hasty in calling it a mistake?